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Small class, big talent

Ohio football recruiting coordinator Brian Haines walked into the National Signing Day news conference with a smile on his face. He exhaled, joked a bit and admitted he was glad the recruiting season was over.

Now the real work begins.

The Bobcats received National Letters of Intent from 19 high-school and junior-college recruits to form a class that head coach Frank Solich noted for its height and heftiness.

“The good thing about this class is you look at their size and their strength,” he said. “They’re guys that are able to challenge right now.”

Compared with other Mid-American Conference schools, Ohio did not have a very large recruiting class in terms of numbers, but one of the team’s last signees might have a big impact in years to come.

A National Letter of Intent from Colerain High School standout Trae Clark added some size and clout to Ohio’s 2012 recruiting class. Clark is listed at 6-foot-3, 350 pounds and will play on the defensive line.

Clark also had offers from 12 other schools, including Arkansas, Michigan State, North Carolina State and West Virginia.

“Defensive linemen are at a premium always. He’s got great size, great strength. Along with that, he’s got really excellent mobility,” Solich said. “I think he’s going to develop into a great defensive lineman.”

Nine of the Bobcats’ seniors had starting roles in 2011, including two spots on the offensive and defensive lines at wide receiver and at linebacker. The 2012 recruiting class includes four defensive linemen, four wide receivers, two offensive linemen and two linebackers.

The Bobcats replaced the seniors’ spots on the roster, but on-field production is another matter. Solich said many of the recruits will compete for starting roles immediately.

One such player is wide receiver Chris Murray, whose 5-foot-10-inch frame, athleticism and Florida roots remind Solich of exiting receiver LaVon Brazill.

“He’s a lot like (Brazill),” Solich said. “(Brazill) made an impact immediately in our program. You watch him catch and run after the catch, that’s who you think about when you see (Murray).”

The recruits hail from eight states, ranging from Florida and Georgia to Texas and Nebraska. Seven of the players are from Ohio.

Five recruits have already enrolled at Ohio University. The team’s four new junior-college transfers and freshman running back Daz’mond Patterson will take part in spring training camp. They will get their first action in uniform during the April 21 Spring Game at Peden Stadium.

The other 14 players will not take part in official team activities until fall camp.


The coaching staff might be excited for the new signees to arrive in Athens, but the players themselves are just as pumped.

“It feels amazing,” said Jordan Reid, a wide receiver from Stone Mountain, Ga. “I have a chance to play at one of the top programs in the nation.”

Reid said he’s already connected with some of his teammates, including offensive lineman Nick Gibbons and safety Toran Davis, both from Georgia.

“I think (the recruiting class) shows that OU’s a bowl-acceptable team. They can win 10-plus games a season,” Gibbons said. “What recruit doesn’t like to have 10-plus wins and a bowl game? That’s something we like a lot.”

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